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Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP)

Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP):

The Boris Johnson administration has come up with a new legislation, the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which would enable the U.K. to override provisions of the Brexit deal that concern trading arrangements in Northern Ireland the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP).

  • Northern Ireland is the only part of the U.K. that shares a land border with the EU, as the Republic of Ireland (or Ireland) is an EU member-state.
  • As long as the U.K. was part of the EU, things were fine. But with Brexit, the U.K. exited the EU’s customs union.
  • This created a problem whose solution needed two seemingly contradictory outcomes: preserving the sanctity of the EU’s single market, as well as that of the U.K.’s domestic market.

Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP):

  • NIP’s solution was to avoid a customs check at the actual customs border on the island of Ireland, between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland as this would have violated the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and risked instability in a region.
  • It instead shifted the customs border to that between Northern Ireland and Britain, effectively at Britain’s ports.
  • As per the NIP, goods flowing into Northern Ireland would be checked at this ‘sea border’ before entering the island, and Northern Ireland would continue to follow EU rules in product standards.
  • The main irritant for the U.K. in the current version of the NIP was the creation of “unacceptable barriers” to trade within the U.K. internal market between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
  • The European Union (EU) has said that the proposed law violates international law and has threatened to take legal action against the U.K. if it goes ahead with the legislation.